Before her first date with Pratik Patel, Shivani Poddar told her friend, “This is never going to work!” after Pratik said he was not dressed for the cocktail bar she suggested for their meet up. Shivani was wrong. “The date itself was electric,” she shares. “Pratik and I talked for hours over drinks, shared photos and stories, and we both called each other, at the same time, right after the date – for a second date.”

One year later, the couple took a trip to St. Maarten to celebrate their anniversary. Pratik had arranged to take his beloved on a private yacht trip around the island at sunset. However, when the couple hailed a taxi to go to the pier, they found themselves stuck in the worst traffic the driver had ever seen. “Pratik, who is generally very calm and collected, was sweating bullets and trying to call the yacht captain on the taxi driver’s phone, without any luck,” tells Shivani. Once at the pier, the sweethearts were two hours behind schedule without a phone, and the captain was nowhere to be found. “Miraculously, a local restaurant owner asked if we were looking for our captain and led us to the yacht, behind the waterfront restaurant!” Shivani exclaims. They were able to catch the sunset just in time, and while she admired the view, Pratik knelt on one knee and said, “This past year has been amazing. What do you think about spending the rest of our lives together?” “I immediately said yes!” confirms the bride.

Given their shared Indian heritage, the newly engaged couple knew they had a lot of planning ahead of them, as there would be a full weekend of events for their nuptials. Electing to have their wedding in Miami, Shivani and Pratik organized the celebration to be a vacation for their friends and family, who largely hailed from New York and New Jersey. “We wanted to make sure that our guests were treated to an unbelievable weekend without any inconvenience,” the bride states. As such, they opted to hold all three events in the same venue in order to avoid additional travel. The couple also planned on late start times, so everyone could sleep in, and held one event per day to avoid hosting overwhelmed attendees. “Finally, we gave our friends Saturday night free to enjoy Miami!” Shivani adds.  

After a festive welcome party that combined the traditions from the cultures of their two families – Gujarat and Rajasthan – the bride and groom were ready to get married. However, as excited as they were to be husband and wife, they still took their loved ones’ needs into consideration. “We were very sensitive to the fact that guests are often asked to attend Indian ceremonies early in the morning and are starving by the end,” Shivani explains. Therefore they decided to host a full brunch before the ceremony, and even offered snacks after the service. Unfortunately, rain delayed the start, but umbrellas were provided – if they were even necessary. “Our guests toughed it out and danced in the rain!” smiles the bride.

The next day everyone gathered together once more to celebrate with a lively reception. Food, again, was the standout of the day. “We wanted a really long reception, and we knew that we would have to provide ample food to keep our guests partying under the late hours,” Shivani shares. With heavy appetizers for cocktail hour, a full plated dinner, a variety of desserts, and a late-night station, they were definitely successful in that endeavor. Crystal details on the centerpieces sparkled throughout the eight-hour event, as friends and family partied through the night.

Though Shivani admits she and her husband did not follow this advice herself, she implores future brides and grooms planning their own weddings to keep this in mind: “Focus on what is most important to you, without harping on every detail. Things always work out in the end, and weddings end up beautiful ­– even if a centerpiece is not exactly perfect.”